On this 25th day of December, I wish you a happy Christmas. For this great holiday a dear friend of mine gave me a wonderful addition to my library, so I now bring you a couple of little known facts courtesy of David Hoffman’s Italy: Little Known Facts about Well Known Places.
- During the period from December 27 to December 31, Roman shops are filled with red underwear of all sorts. Apparently Italian tradition says that wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve and throwing it out the next day will insure good luck in the coming year.
Not sure about you, but this sounds like much more fun than eating cabbage and black eyed peas. Sounds like a trip to the mall may be in order.
And not to do with Christmas, but completely unknown to me until now:
- The pope’s official bodyguards are Swiss citizens, between 19 and 30 yrs old. They are at least 5’10” AND unmarried when they start the gig. AND regardless of age they must remain single for the first three years of duty, and if they are under twenty-one, they must stay single until at least twenty-five.
I’m not sure what the logic is, but there you go. That’s it for now. So I’ll leave you with one last Christmas wish and a weird music video to one of my all time favorite Christmas songs:
In my continued quest to further my Italians skillz, I’ve made a new friend to help me practice speaking. So my new conversation buddy Federico happens to not only be Italian, but more importantly he’s Sicilian like my forefathers… he even shared my love of traditional Sicilian arancini (which those northern Italians don’t make nearly as good as the Sicilians, no offense intended).
While our first conversation adventure was a little iffy on my part (I kind of need a lot of work), I think it went quite well! Next plan is to have friends studying Italian everywhere, that way I can practice with basically everyone. But more importantly this will lead to my ultimate goal of having all my friends/family move with me to Italy.
I learned many things this weekend…
- Lulu’s Beehive in Studio City is amazing. Cool name, free wi-fi, good coffee, and possibly good food too. I can’t vouch for the food, but the fellow next to us had a sandwich that looked pretty good. And word is they have live music at night.
- The best way to learn a foreign language is to watch movies or television in that language with closed captioning (not English subtitles). Federico is apparently going to lend me his Italian copy of High Fidelity. John Cusack è il mio favorito... sigh.
- Briscola is a grandma’s game, and if you are under the age of 60, you are a joke.
- My grandmother was a Briscola card shark when she was a small child. Grandmothers everywhere feared that little Bert DiGiglia would hustle them for everything they had… or at least their next batch of cookies.
Ho ascoltato musica pop perché ero misero? O ero misero perché ho ascoltato musica pop?
Translation: Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?
As of late I’ve been trying to do more things Italian. Just in general. I had lapsed on my language studies. But no more! This past weekend I went down to Culver City to a cute little Italian cafe to join up with members of Fieri to play Scopa and Briscola (two really fun card games, that I hope to teach you soon). And between my new friends there and other random Italians, I hope to have fairly regular conversation practice.
So, to kick start, I bring back the not-so-weekly edition of useful phrases:
Ambasciator non porta pena.
- Don’t shoot the messenger.
Al contadino non far sapere quanto è buono il formaggio con le pere.
- Don’t let the farmer know how good cheese is with pears.
Esse nufesso qui dice male di macuruni.
- Who speaks badly of macaroni is a fool.
Stavo sognando di voi.
- I was dreaming about you.
And to note, I might have spilled the beans on the cheese and pear combo. Seriously delicious. See below and then check out coffeeandvanilla.com (recipe below was found there and the site appears to have a wealth of wonderful food combos, ie coffee and vanilla)
3-4 pears (sliced)
100g dark chocolate (chopped)
200g mild blue cheese – I used Gorgonzola Dolce (cubed)
8 crisp rye bread slices
Share pears, cheese and chocolate to the plates.
Serve with crisp bread on the side.
Serve 4 people.